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MAS: ‘Guidance should move closer to regulated advice’


The Money Advice Service has suggested guidance needs to move closer to regulated advice to ensure the success of pension freedoms.

Speaking to Money Marketing following the organisation’s latest results, MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes says the scope of guidance needs to be reviewed to help savers make the right decisions on accessing their pension pot.

Rookes says: “Pension freedoms have undoubtedly created a different context and more complexities for people on relatively modest incomes.

“There are more people with smaller sums of money that want probably more help than what has traditionally been given in terms of what to do next. We have our tools that tell people want their options are, and what the implications are of those options, but what we can’t do is say to people ‘in your circumstances this is what you should do’. And that is probably want people want.”

But Rookes says given pension freedoms are creating more demand for help and information, and the ongoing work of the Financial Advice Market Review, there is an opportunity to review how guidance is working.

She says: “I think there is scope to look at guidance and think about whether it is possible to move further towards the regulated boundary. Of course the advice review is looking at it through the other lens of whether there are ways of creating an advice product for want of a better word that isn’t so comprehensive or all-embracing as regulated advice.

“There is a space which needs to be looked at again in the light of what has been happening on the pensions front. If the pension flexibilities are going to be successful, and we all want them to be, we need to make sure that people feel confident to make the choices that they’ve been given.”

The MAS’s latest figures show over 54,800 consumers have used the organisation’s retirement adviser directory since it launched in April. Over 20,500 users, or 37 per cent, have gone on to contact an adviser as a result.

Rookes says the organisation is working more closely with The Pensions Advisory Service, and says a lot of the pensions-related queries MAS receives are passed directly to TPAS.

She says: “With all of our work, but with pensions particularly, we want to make sure people are getting the most effective and appropriate advice or guidance for them.

“The vast majority of pension calls are put straight through to TPAS because we know it is a complex subject and they are much more expert than we are on those technical issues.”

Rookes adds: “Picking up on Christine Farnish’s recommendations, and this is reflected in our business plan for next year, we want to make sure we are not duplicating work. What we are doing is directing people to help, whether it is through us or another organisation that can provide the appropriate support consumers need.”

The Farnish review, published last year, called for the MAS to slash its £43m money advice budget and called for the organisation to be restructured.



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There are 15 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. So they want to give advice but don’t want the responsibility for it should it go wrong?

  2. Richard Broadbent 29th January 2016 at 12:43 pm

    So following the experiment they have realised what most client facing people already knew, which is that clients want to be told which option / provider is best for them and why. What MAS is suggesting sounds to me like the ability to give advice with no liability for that advice paid for by other people who pay for that advice through an adviser.

  3. And just what minimum qualifications and experience for all MAS counsellors does Ms Rookes suggest?

  4. I thought I had read the headline wrongly. This is simply ridicules

    Of course everybody would like to get advice without going through the correct process but advice is a serious and must be done properly.

    This article just demonstrates the need for a level playing field. Rather than make it easier for non experts to give advice – make it easier for the experts to give advice.

  5. In summary then, it’s broken but they don’t want qualified mechanics to fix it!!

  6. Richard seems to have summarised this well. Basically, Rookes is saying that they can’t do what she promised to do and as she has previously expressed her belief that we are a bunch of crooks, she wants the rules redefined so she can have another clueless attempt. She should be shown the door.

  7. What a waste of money creating an entity with a pompous leader to eventually come to the conclusion that people want to be told what to do in their personal circumstance. Why does she then assume MAS should deliver this advice, at our cost, when there are perfectly good advice channels available to provide for these individuals.


    Try sticking to what your good at MAS, providing debt counselling to people who are in financial trouble with no money and continue to offer your free service otherwise please “SHUT UP”

  8. MAS were not even allowed to give guidance let alone advice because they haven’t a clue.
    CAB , well that went so wrong and TPAS did not get enough takers.

  9. Presumably can pay for the advice for someone else to give and then pay again if that advice that goes wrong. Or perhaps I have got it all wrong and it can be paid for from the money tree that grows at the bottom of the garden.

  10. Money Advice Service that cannot give advise, wants to give advise but does not want to have to pay any of the fees, levies and does not want to be liable. Why is the person being paid, do you live in the real world.

  11. Yes, people want advice but that is not the role of the MAS.

    MAS should be better at demonstrating the value of paying for independent advice so more people approach advisers. From what I recall of some of Mrs Rookes past inflammatory comments on advisers I don’t imagine there is any culture within the MAS of valuing professional financial advice filtering down from the top.

    For the members of the public that remain unviable to serve under the current status quo, surely it would be cheaper to reduce the regulatory requirements and create a new easy to use simplified advice framework rather than increase costs further by spending millions on recruiting, training and maintaining a sufficient number of MAS advisers to the required standard.

  12. This lady is suffering, like so much of the regulatory community, with a delusion: that in any given financial planning situation there is a right answer that can be objectively determined. Advice is about explaining options, and above all being clear about uncertainties. There is a savage irony in the scenario of the Treasury, or any other public body, presuming to pontificate on the subject. The very first and perhaps the most important rule – and this really is a rule – of financial planning is stated thus: never, ever, trust the Government, any Government.

  13. My Trainee has his level 3, NOT his level 4, but has passed the CII’s pension update exam R08. The logical thing is NOT to give MAS more powers at OUR expense, it is to do the reverse. Allow HIM to sit and NOT advise clients, but clearly explain their options, rank what they want to do on a scale of stupidity and only allow them to do scale 2,3 and 4, to do 1, is advised, to do 5, they have to be advised why they shouldn’t do it, but the firm should do it and 6, is the stupid service i.e. we give them a number for the same psychiatrist Ms Rookes is using.

  14. Ok off to the pub now, it’s gone 6pm and it should have been poets day….

  15. Sack this woman now

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